Author: Radio News Hub

Coronavirus contact tracing app rolls out across England and Wales
A coronavirus contact tracing app is launching across England and Wales on Thursday in what the Health Secretary has called “an important step forward” in our fight against the “invisible killer”.

The rollout follows months of delay and questions about its effectiveness in the face of mixed results from other countries which have already deployed such apps.

NHS Test and Trace, which is responsible for the service, said the app was used to send alerts to users during a trial period on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham, after people had tested positive.

The latest version was piloted among residents of both areas as well as NHS volunteers from mid-August, after the first app was marred by technical issues and eventually scrapped.

As the software is voluntary, its success will also depend heavily on how many people choose to download and use it.

An advertising campaign to promote the app will appear on television this evening with the strapline, “Protect your loved ones. Get the app”.

It comes at a critical time for the UK, with confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the rise daily.

“We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

“With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

“We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.

“Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

The app uses an Apple and Google-developed system, using Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of people a user has been close to.

It does this by exchanging randomised keys while the Bluetooth signal strength measures proximity.

If someone falls ill, they can tell the app, which will then ping their keys to a central server and in turn send them off to all app users in search of a match.

Should the system determine a person as a close contact, they will be automatically sent a notification and issued with further guidance.

A QR code scanning feature is available, allowing people to check-in to venues they visit and easily share their contact details for human tracing efforts.

Some 160,000 businesses have already downloaded QR codes for use in their facilities.

Baroness Dido Harding, executive chair of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.

“The NHS Covid-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.

“The features of this app, including QR code check-in at venues, work alongside our traditional contact tracing service and will help us to reach more people quickly in their communities to prevent further spread of the virus.

“This is a welcome step in protecting those around us.”

The UK’s major network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile have agreed to “zero-rate” data charges incurred by all in-app activity, meaning they will not be charged for using it.

Published: 24/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Chancellor to reveal emergency job protection plan amid new Covid restrictions
Rishi Sunak will outline his plans to protect jobs on Thursday as the opposition insisted more needed to be done to bolster the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Chancellor will address the Commons after cancelling this year’s Budget.

With the furlough work scheme due to finish at the end of October, he will announce measures aimed at protecting millions of jobs in sectors hit by the latest Government guidance on Covid-19.

As the number of new cases rose by more than 6,000, new restrictions came into force in England on Thursday, and the much-delayed coronavirus contact tracing app was finally launched.

Mr Sunak’s intervention comes after increasing pressure from business groups, MPs and unions to extend the furlough scheme amid fears the new restrictions will damage the economy.

Number 11 said work on the scheme had been taking place in parallel with Budget preparations with a focus on jobs to avoid the expected three million unemployed.

The Treasury said: “We will always be honest with people about the difficult trade-offs that are involved here.

“Not between health and the economy, but between keeping people in jobs and helping them find new ones. And between help in the here and now and rebuilding in the future. That’s what people deserve.”

The Chancellor initially announced his move via Twitter, with a graphic titled “Winter Economy Plan”.

His initiative will include VAT cuts, loans for hard hit businesses and wage subsidies, according to reports.

It could see the Government and firms share the cost of topping up wages for employees only able to work part-time due to the pandemic.

Mr Sunak’s emergency plan comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country could have to cope with up to another six months of coronavirus restrictions.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said she had called for Mr Sunak “to U-turn on his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough” 40 times.

Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, said the new Covid restrictions were the result of Government failures.

Ministers are desperate to avoid a second lockdown and the associated economic damage, with early indicators suggesting the recovery has slowed.

One option reportedly being considered to replace the furlough scheme is Germany’s Kurzarbeit, or shorter work-time policy, under which firms can cut working hours in economic downturns with the state replacing part of their lost income.

Another proposal put forward by the CBI business group would see subsidies for firms that can offer staff at least 50% of their normal hours, with the cost for non-working hours shared equally by the company, the Treasury and the employee.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson was repeatedly challenged about the looming prospect of support being withdrawn from firms and workers despite the prospect of the latest restrictions being in place for six months.

The furlough scheme has cost the Government £39.3 billion to date, with £3.9 billion between August 16 and September 20 alone, according to the latest figures released.

There were a further 6,178 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, the highest 24-hour total since May taking the overall number to 409,729.

A further 37 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 41,862, the Government said.

Westminster Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the coronavirus contact tracing app launched across England and Wales on Thursday came at a “tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus” and he urged everyone who could to download and use it.

New rules came into force in England on Thursday for hospitality, leisure, entertainment and tourism businesses to close at 10pm, with an expansion in the mandatory wearing of face coverings backed by increased fines.

Tighter regulations come into force in Wales from 6pm on Thursday, and further restrictions in Scotland on Friday, including household mixing indoors being no longer allowed, although people were asked to comply from Wednesday.

Published: 24/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Toe the line now or face tougher measures later, PM warns nation
The Government has warned that Britain could face much tougher measures if new rules to curb coronavirus fail to get the infection rate under control.

Boris Johnson said the nation faces an “unquestionably difficult” winter and warned the latest restrictions could last the next six months.

In a televised address the Prime Minister said “we must reserve the right to go further” if the pace of transmission continues to rise.

The new strategy for England will see office staff once again working from home, the wider use of face masks and a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.

Businesses will face £10,000 fines or closure for failing to comply with regulations, and people risk £200 penalties for failing to wear masks or breaching the “rule of six”.

The military could be used to free up police officers to tackle coronavirus rulebreakers.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will deliver a “right of reply” address to the nation in response to Mr Johnson on Wednesday evening.

Other measures being introduced in England over the coming days include:

– From Thursday, pubs, bars and restaurants will be table-service only and hospitality, leisure and entertainment venues will be subject to a 10pm closing time. Takeaways will also close from 10pm to 5am, although they will be allowed to deliver.

– Face coverings will be required for taxi passengers from Wednesday and for retail staff and hospitality customers, except when sitting down eating or drinking, from Thursday.

– Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations for retail, leisure and tourism firms, with businesses facing the risk of fines or closure for failing to comply.

– From Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be allowed to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.

– From Thursday, the rule of six will be extended to cover indoor team sports, such as five-a-side football games.

– Plans to allow business conferences and crowds at sporting events from October 1 have been shelved.

The new rules – and similar or tougher controls elsewhere in the UK – followed scientists’ warnings that the number of cases was doubling every seven days.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK passed 400,000, with a further 4,926 lab-confirmed cases as of 9am on Tuesday.

The Government said a further 37 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said he was “deeply, spiritually reluctant” to infringe on people’s freedoms, but unless action was taken now there would be a need for harsher regulations later “when the deaths have already mounted”.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon went further, imposing a ban on household visits from Wednesday.

And she suggested the tougher approach may mean the rules do not have to be in place as long as restrictions in England.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said there was a question over whether the rules announced by the Prime Minister would “in themselves be sufficient to reverse the increase in cases as we move into autumn”.

Prof Hunter added: “It is doubtful that the measures currently being enacted will be sufficient to reduce the R value to below one much before this side of Christmas.”

The Government faced renewed calls to do more to support businesses, with the hospitality industry warning that the new restrictions would be a “crushing blow”.

Published: 23/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Timeline of key events since UK was put into lockdown
It marks six months since Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK on lockdown and restrictions are tightening again after a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Here are the key dates and events since the unprecedented restrictions were announced on March 23.

– March 23: The UK public is told that they will only be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, including food shopping, exercise once per day, medical need and travelling for work when absolutely necessary.

All shops selling non-essential goods are told to close, gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, events including weddings – but excluding funerals – are cancelled.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells Britons travelling abroad to return home while they still can.

– March 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock reveals a new Nightingale hospital – with a capacity of 4,000 – is being prepared at the ExCeL Centre in London and a scheme is launched to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS but more than half a million people apply in just two days.

– March 25: The Prince of Wales tests positive for coronavirus, but is displaying only “mild symptoms”, Clarence House says.

Sweeping emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus are set to become law after clearing the House of Lords without amendment.

– March 26: An 84-year-old man becomes the first inmate to die in prison of Covid-19.

The UK becomes the largest single contributor in the search for a coronavirus vaccine, pledging £210 million in aid funding.

A support package for the self-employed is announced – covering an average of 80% of earnings over the past three years.

The Clap for our Carers campaign begins, kicking off a weekly national applause for frontline workers.

– March 27: Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock test positive for Covid-19, while chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty says he has symptoms and is self-isolating.

– March 28: UK deaths from coronavirus reach 1,019 – an increase of 260 in 24 hours.

Amged El-Hawrani, a 55-year-old consultant, becomes the first frontline NHS hospital worker to die after testing positive for coronavirus.

– April 2: The Prime Minister comes out of self-isolation for a brief appearance at the door of No 11 Downing Street to join the clap for key workers.

Mr Hancock sets a goal of reaching 100,000 tests for coronavirus per day by the end of April.

A million confirmed cases of coronavirus are recorded across the world, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

– April 4: Sir Keir Starmer is elected leader of the Labour Party.

– April 5: The Queen tells the nation if we “remain united and resolute” in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, “we will overcome it”.

Downing Street says Mr Johnson has been admitted to hospital for tests as a “precautionary step” as his coronavirus symptoms persisted.

– April 6: Downing Street says the Prime Minister’s condition has worsened and he is moved to St Thomas’ Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab deputises for Mr Johnson.

The number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK rises beyond 5,000.

– April 7: Downing Street says the PM’s condition remains “stable” and he is in “good spirits”. He is later moved from intensive care back to the ward.

The first patients are admitted to the NHS Nightingale hospital in London.

– April 8: A lack of protective equipment for nurses is “fundamentally compromising” the care they can give patients, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns.

– April 10: The worldwide death toll linked to coronavirus hits 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

– April 11: Home Secretary Priti Patel says she was sorry if anyone felt there had been failings over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

– April 12: Mr Johnson is discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery at Chequers, Downing Street says.

The hospital death toll of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK passes the 10,000 mark.

– April 13: Care sector bosses say daily death tolls are “airbrushing out” hundreds of elderly people who have died at care homes.

– April 14: Chancellor Rishi Sunak warns the Government will not be able to protect every UK business and every household during the pandemic, adding: “These are tough times and there will be more to come.”

– April 16: Mr Raab, still deputising for the Prime Minister, announces that lockdown measures will be extended for at least three more weeks.

– April 18: More than 15,000 are reported to have died in hospital in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus.

– April 20: The Duke of Edinburgh makes a rare statement, praising those tackling the pandemic across the UK and keeping essential services running.

The Chancellor reveals that more than 140,000 applied to the Government’s job retention scheme on the morning of its launch.

Downing Street says ministers and officials are working around the clock to ensure frontline NHS staff get the correct PPE, amid mounting frustration over a lack of supplies.

– April 22: For the first time in British parliamentary history, MPs contribute to Prime Minister’s Questions via videolink.

– April 23: Millions of people become eligible for a coronavirus test under an expansion of the testing programme for essential workers and their households, announced by the Health Secretary.

The first people are injected as part of human trials in the UK for a coronavirus vaccine, lead by Oxford University, while Mr Hancock announces the new NHSX app for contact tracing.

– April 27: Mr Johnson is back in Downing Street and “in charge” of the Government’s response to the outbreak.

– April 28: Mr Johnson vows that key workers who have lost their lives in the pandemic will not be forgotten, as a national minute’s silence is held in their honour.

– April 29: Data included in the Government’s daily updates for the first time shows 26,097 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community in the UK after contracting Covid-19, Public Health England (PHE) says.

Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds gives birth to a boy called Wilfred.

– April 30: In his first Downing Street press conference since being hospitalised for Covid-19, Mr Johnson says the country is now “past the peak of this disease”.

Captain Tom Moore celebrates his 100th birthday at home with his family after becoming a national hero by raising more than £32 million for the NHS by walking laps in his garden.

– May 1: Mr Hancock says the Government has met its target of hitting 100,000 coronavirus tests in a day by the end of April after conducting 122,347 tests on April 30.

– May 3: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the contact tracing app will be piloted on the Isle of Wight before being rolled out more widely later in May.

– May 4: It is announced the first NHS Nightingale field hospital – at London’s ExCeL centre – will be placed on standby.

– May 5: The UK’s declared death toll from coronavirus rises to more than 32,000, passing Italy’s total and becoming the highest in Europe.

Trials of the new coronavirus contact-tracing app begin on the Isle of Wight and Mr Hancock dismisses warnings by civil liberties campaigners that it could open the door to widespread “state surveillance”.

– May 6: Mr Johnson sets a new 200,000 daily coronavirus testing target by the end of the month as he said he “bitterly” regrets the Covid-19 crisis in care homes and is frustrated about problems supplying PPE.

Professor Neil Ferguson quits as a Government adviser on coronavirus and resigns from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after allowing a woman to visit him at his London home during lockdown.

– May 7: Black men and women in England and Wales are more than four times more likely to die a coronavirus-related death than white people, analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

Former TalkTalk chief executive Baroness Dido Harding is appointed to lead the contact tracing programme.

– May 10: Mr Johnson announces the first easing of England’s lockdown, telling people they are allowed to sunbathe in parks and leave the house to exercise more than once a day.

He says England may be in a position “to begin the phased reopening of shops” and get primary pupils back to school in steps staggered by year groups “at the earliest by June 1”.

– May 11: Garden centres can reopen and people will be allowed outdoors for unlimited exercise in pursuits such as tennis, golf, lawn bowls and basketball under the new changes.

People must keep two metres away from others and are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed places.

– May 12: The Chancellor says the furlough scheme, which is supporting 7.5 million jobs, will be extended until the end of October, but employers will be expected to pick up a share of the bill from August as the economy reopens.

– May 13: Mr Johnson announces a £600 million package for coronavirus infection control in English care homes as he admitted that the number of deaths among residents has been “too high”.

It came after official figures suggested that care home deaths accounted for 40% (2,423) of the 6,035 coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 1.

– May 14: England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam says frontline workers, including those in the NHS, will be the first to get a new antibody test for Covid-19.

– May 17: The Government invests a further £84 million in the hunt for a vaccine, supporting teams at Oxford University and Imperial College London.

The former is said to have signed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca which could see it supply 100 million doses of a vaccine – with 30 million going to the UK – as soon as September.

– May 18: Everyone aged five and over is made eligible to be tested for coronavirus if they are showing symptoms, which are expanded to included a loss of taste or smell.

– May 20: A testing and tracing system, seen as the key to easing the lockdown, will be up and running by June 1 – but the rollout of the contact tracing app will come later, says Mr Johnson.

He says 25,000 staff would be in place by the start of June and they would be capable of tracking the contacts of up to 10,000 new Covid-19 cases a day.

– May 22: Home Secretary Priti Patel announces plans for people arriving in the UK from overseas to undergo a 14-day quarantine period from June 8.

Reports suggest that Mr Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings allegedly broke the Government’s lockdown rules when he was spotted at his parents’ property in Durham where he was recovering from coronavirus symptoms, after travelling from his London home with his wife and son who also fell ill.

– May 23: A second eyewitness tells newspapers they saw Mr Cummings a week earlier in Barnard Castle, a popular tourist location 30 miles away from Durham, during the period he was believed to be self-isolating.

– May 24: Mr Johnson says Mr Cummings “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”, and “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.

Mr Johnson confirms there will be a phased reopening of England’s primary schools.

– May 25: Mr Cummings defends his actions in a press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, saying he believes he behaved “reasonably” and does not regret his actions.

Mr Johnson announces plans for shops across England to open in June if they can meet the coronavirus guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms could open from June 1 and all other non-essential retailers – such as those selling clothes and books – will be allowed to open from June 15, provided the Government’s five tests are met.

– May 26: Doctors are now able to prescribe the drug remdesivir, which has been shown to shorten recovery time, to those who have severe Covid-19 infection.

– May 28: NHS Test and Trace officially launches across England with the help of 25,000 contact tracers, while an accompanying app is still delayed by several weeks.

Mr Johnson announces groups of up to six are allowed to meet outside.

– May 29: A final self-employment coronavirus grant is to be made available and businesses must start paying towards the worker furlough scheme from August, Mr Sunak announces.

– May 30: England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam says Britain is facing a “very dangerous moment” with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

At the same press conference, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announces that elite sport events would begin behind closed doors from June 1.

– May 31: The target to build testing capacity to 200,000 tests per day in the UK has been reached a day early, according to Mr Hancock, with a total of 205,634 tests available.

– June 1: Lockdown measures are eased, with school children in England in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning to the classroom.

– June 2: MPs approve the Government’s plan to end virtual voting in the Commons.

– June 5: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announces a two-month extension to the Government’s halt on evictions from social and private rented properties.

Meanwhile, the Health Secretary urges people not break lockdown rules by attending protests planned following the death in the US of George Floyd.

– June 15: England’s retail parks, high streets and shopping centres welcome customers, while zoos and safari parks open their doors for the first time since March.

Places of worship reopen for private prayer while some secondary school pupils have begun returning to their classrooms.

– June 16: The cheap steroid dexamethasone is hailed as a major breakthrough as a study suggests it is the first drug to reduce deaths from coronavirus.

– June 18: Apple and Google take over the design of the Track and Trace app from the NHS’s digital arm NHSX as the Government abandons its own app.

– June 19: The UK’s chief medical officers agreed to downgrade the coronavirus alert level from four to three after a “steady” and continuing decrease in cases in all four nations.

– June 23: The Prime Minister holds the final daily coronavirus press conference, but reassures the public it would not be the last time they heard from the Government and its advisers.

Meanwhile, the first healthy volunteer receives a “small dose” of a potential vaccine developed by researchers from Imperial College London.

– June 26: Mr Johnson warns people against “taking liberties” with social distancing rules after thousands flocked to beaches during the heatwave.

The Department for Transport announces that public transport services in England will be ramped up, while ministers confirm the requirement to quarantine for two weeks will be scrapped for a list of popular destinations.

– June 29: A local lockdown is imposed on Leicester by Mr Hancock following a spike of coronavirus cases in the city.

It comes as the rest of England moves to ease restrictions on places of social gathering such as pubs and restaurants from July 4.

– July 3: A list of 73 countries and territories where English tourists can visit without self-isolating on their return is published, including popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France and Italy.

– July 4: Pub pints are poured and couples finally say “I do” as lockdown restrictions are eased across England.

– July 9: Boots says it expects to cut more than 4,000 jobs as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19, just hours after John Lewis announced plans to shut eight stores, putting around 1,300 jobs at risk.

– July 13: Beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo shops in England welcome customers for the first time in four months following the relaxation of social distancing measures.

– July 16: Britain, the United States and Canada accuse Russian spies of targeting scientists seeking to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Mr Hancock announces a partial lifting of lockdown measures in Leicester, but restrictions on non-essential travel and only having social gatherings of up to six people would remain in force.

– July 17: Mr Johnson eases the work-from-home guidance as he sets out plans for a “significant return to normality” in England from as early as November.

The Health Secretary orders an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates daily Covid-19 death figures, after researchers criticised “statistical flaws” in the way the deaths are reported across the country.

Captain Sir Tom Moore is knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle.

– July 21: The Chancellor announces that public sector workers on the front line of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will be given a pay rise.

– July 24: Face coverings become mandatory in shops across England, with £100 fines to people who flout the rules.

– July 26: Spain is removed from the safe countries list, meaning travellers returning from the country, including the Spanish islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

– July 27: The National Police Chiefs’ Council says 16,029 fines for alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations were issued by police forces in England and 2,640 by those in Wales between March 27 and July 20.

– July 30: People who test positive for coronavirus or display symptoms must now self-isolate for 10 days as Mr Hancock warns of a “second wave starting to roll across Europe”.

People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.

– July 31: Measures due to be lifted on August 1, including allowing small wedding receptions, reopening bowling alleys and casinos and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues, are delayed for at least two weeks.

– August 1: Shielding advice for people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable during the peak of the pandemic is paused in England and Scotland.

– August 3: The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme launches, with restaurants, pubs and cafes offering half-price meals to diners during August.

– August 8: Belgium, Andorra and The Bahamas are removed from the list of travel corridors.

– August 13: Thousands of pupils’ A-level results in England are downgraded amid cancelled exams as a result of the coronavirus crisis, due to the regulator Ofqual’s “moderation” algorithm.

France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba are added to the quarantine list, Mr Shapps announces.

– August 17: A-level and GCSE results in England are to be based on teachers’ assessments of their students, unless the grades produced by the controversial algorithm are higher, regulator Ofqual announces in a major U-turn.

– August 20: Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago are removed from the travel corridors list, while Portugal is added.

– August 24: The Prime Minister issues a plea to parents to send their children back to the classroom when schools reopen.

– August 26: The Department for Education announces that permanent secretary Jonathan Slater will stand down because “the Prime Minister has concluded that there is a need for fresh official leadership”.

– August 27: Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic are removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list.

– August 28: Those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of more than 30 people may now face a £10,000 fine, as tougher measures come into force before the bank holiday weekend.

– August 30: All passengers on a Tui flight to Wales from the Greek island of Zante are told to self-isolate, after at least seven positive cases are identified among three different parties.

– September 6: A further 2,988 cases of coronavirus are reported in the UK – the largest daily figure since May 22.

– September 8: Mr Hancock warns of a possible second peak following a “concerning” rise in the number of cases.

Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from September 14, ministers announce, as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.

– September 9: Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine under development by AstraZeneca and Oxford University are put on hold owing to a reported side-effect in a patient in the UK.

The Prime Minister outlines the “Operation Moonshot” approach of mass testing.

– September 11: The R value of coronavirus transmission across the UK rises above 1 for the first time since early March, according to Government advisers, with the estimate between 1.0 and 1.2.

The Government announces the NHS Covid-19 app is due to launch across England and Wales on September 24.

– September 12: Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University resume.

– September 16: Labour leader Sir Keir said he is “pleased and relieved” that a coronavirus test result for one of his children had come back negative.

– September 17: Baroness Harding denies that the test and trace system is failing but acknowledges that a surge in demand was significantly outstripping capacity.

– September 18: Mr Johnson warns that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived in the UK.

Sage estimates the R number – representing the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to – at between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases could rise very quickly.

Parts of England’s North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands face tough new restrictions in response to “major increases” in cases.

– September 19: The Government warns that people in England who refuse an order to self-isolate will face fines of up to £10,000.

– September 21: Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick tells a televised briefing the UK could see 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 or more a month later unless urgent action is taken.

– September 22: The Prime Minister announces new restrictions including a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants in England from September 24, while face coverings are made mandatory in more scenarios and limits for weddings and receptions are cut to 15 people maximum.

The planned return of some fans to sport venues on October 1 is postponed and penalties for failing to wear a mask double to £200 for a first offence.

Scotland and Northern Ireland deviate from the restrictions in place for England by announcing bans on households mixing indoors, while Wales includes a ban on alcohol sales in off-licences and supermarkets after 10pm in addition to the curfew on hospitality venues.

The official toll of deaths within 28 days of a positive test stands at 41,825. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been more than 57,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Published: 23/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

US death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000
The US death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 on Tuesday, by far the highest in the world.

“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher, eight months after the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation.

The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.

And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the US toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in.

A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until 2021.

“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on CNN.

The bleak milestone was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many Covid-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.

Mr Trump said it was “a shame” the US reached that number but argued the toll could have been much worse.

“I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right, you’d have 2.5 million deaths,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a campaign rally in Pittsburgh.

He added that the United States is now “doing well” and “the stock market is up”.

He also gave his often-repeated broadside that China was at fault for the pandemic.

In a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly, he demanded that Beijing be held accountable for having “unleashed this plague onto the world”. China’s ambassador rejected the accusations as baseless.

On Twitter, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “It didn’t have to be this bad.”

“It’s a staggering number that’s hard to wrap your head around,” he said. “There’s a devastating human toll to this pandemic — and we can’t forget that.”

For five months, America has led the world by far in sheer numbers of confirmed infections — nearly 6.9 million as of Tuesday — and deaths.

The US has less than 5% of the globe’s population but more than 20% of the reported deaths.

Brazil is second with about 137,000 deaths, followed by India with approximately 89,000 and Mexico with around 74,000.

Only five countries — Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Spain and Brazil — rank higher in Covid-19 deaths per capita.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 31 million people and is closing in fast on 1 million deaths, with nearly 967,000 lives lost, by Johns Hopkins’ count, though the real numbers are believed to be higher because of gaps in testing and reporting.

When the year began, the US had recently garnered recognition for its readiness for a pandemic.

Health officials seemed confident as they converged on Seattle in January to deal with the country’s first known case of the coronavirus, in a 35-year-old Washington state resident who had returned from visiting his family in Wuhan, China.

On February 26, Mr Trump held up pages from the Global Health Security Index, a measure of readiness for health crises, and declared, “The United States is rated No. 1 most prepared.”

But monitoring at airports was loose. Travel bans came too late. Only later did health officials realise the virus could spread before symptoms show up, rendering screening imperfect.

The virus also swept into nursing homes and exploited poor infection controls, claiming more than 78,000 lives.

At the same time, gaps in leadership led to shortages of testing supplies. Internal warnings to ramp up production of masks were ignored, leaving states to compete for protective gear.

Mr Trump downplayed the threat early on, advanced unfounded notions about the behaviour of the virus, promoted unproven or dangerous treatments, complained that too much testing was making the US look bad, and disdained masks, turning face coverings into a political issue.

On April 10, the president predicted the US wouldn’t see 100,000 deaths. That milestone was reached on May 27.

Published: 23/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

David Moyes discovered positive test an hour after arriving at London Stadium
West Ham manager David Moyes had been at the London Stadium for almost an hour before he and two players were sent home for positive coronavirus tests.

The Hammers and Hull were so close to kick-off that defender Issa Diop and midfielder Josh Cullen were initially named in the team for the Carabao Cup match.

But 15 minutes later the line-up was changed with both players omitted, and when the teams came out there was no sign of Moyes, with assistant Alan Irvine taking charge.

Irvine said: “At 20 past six we suddenly got some information from our doctor and head physio to say there were three positive tests, the manager and the two players.

“We’d had contact in so far as we were in the same area of the stadium as David.

“We’d been at the stadium for about two hours before the match started.

“We were shocked by the news, we’ve had so many tests and not had any positive.

“But we’ve been very particular about protocol right from the start, the medical team are very aware of what has been happening and we’ve followed all the protocol, and we’ll be following protocol now.”

West Ham revealed all three are asymptomatic and will now follow Public Health England and Premier League guidelines and protocols, which will mean they have to isolate for 10 days.

It is understood West Ham’s and Hull’s medical departments agreed the match could go ahead within the protocols and in consultation with the EFL’s medical department, and given the evidence that suggests there is very low risk of transmission during a match outdoors.

However, with the news coming on the same day that nearby Leyton Orient had their game against Tottenham postponed due to a number of positive tests, and just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was outlining new coronavirus restrictions including no prospect of fans returning to matches any time soon, it was not a good look.

Nevertheless, Hull said in a statement: “We are satisfied that West Ham followed all guidelines and protocols upon receiving the positive results and, after consulting with the EFL, were comfortable with the game going ahead.”

City boss Grant McCann added: “We found out just before the team sheets were going to go in, probably an hour before the game.

“We did not come into contact with Moyes or the others. We are happy we followed the EFL protocols and West Ham were adamant on that so we were comfortable to play the game.

“The players knew before the game. The players are not silly. They all knew about it. Once we got here we had to follow the guidelines.”

West Ham’s next match is at home to Wolves on Sunday, while it is understood Arsenal, against whom they played at the weekend, will continue as planned as all protocols were followed.

This third-round tie went ahead as scheduled with Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko both scoring twice and Robert Snodgrass also on target in a 5-1 victory.

Mallik Wilks pulled one back for Hull as West Ham booked a fourth-round trip to Everton or Fleetwood.

Published: 23/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Pep Guardiola says Man City squad is stretched to its limit
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admits his squad is stretched to the limit after their opening win over Wolves.

City claimed an impressive 3-1 win at Molineux as Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus struck in their Premier League opener on Monday.

They remain without Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte and Eric Garcia while Ilkay Gundogan is self isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.

City start their defence of the Carabao Cup against Bournemouth on Thursday and Guardiola knows they cannot afford to lose others.

“All we want is the seven players that are out to come back,” Guardiola said.

“Now we have a competition that we cannot spend the energy that we spent today, before Leicester, so we’re going to play mostly academy players and try to keep the energy for the Premier League.

“With this lack of preparation and seven players out and not coming back soon, we have to keep the players from Monday as safe as possible.

“We will see how many are available, how they recover. We have just three days. We won the Carabao Cup three times in a row and we would like to continue but we don’t have the players in this period to play every three days.”

At Molineux, De Bruyne was brought down by Romain Saiss and then scored from the spot after 20 minutes before Foden made it 2-0, finishing off a flowing move.

Raul Jimenez pulled a goal back for Wolves in the second half but Jesus’ deflected strike settled the game in injury time.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who is close to signing Barcelona defender Nelson Semedo, said: “It’s clear we performed better in the second half.

“We adjusted better, we created chances and moments. We scored late and we knew one goal would change everything.

“We should do better, especially defensively. The result cannot stop us from going in this direction. I take the positives but to play well we must defend better.”

Published: 22/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Premier Inn owner Whitbread to axe up to 6,000 jobs as pandemic hits demand
Up to 6,000 jobs are being axed at Premier Inn owner Whitbread as the group warned the coronavirus crisis will continue to hammer demand.

The group said the cuts would impact 18% of the total workforce across its hotel and restaurant brands, which also includes the Beefeater pubs and Brewers Fayre chains.

It is hoping a “significant proportion” of the job cuts will be made through voluntary redundancy and lowered contracted hours for some staff.

Whitbread said the plans come as demand is set to remain subdued in the short to medium-term and with the Government’s furlough scheme coming to an end next month.

The job losses also come on top of cuts to reduce its head office workforce by up to a fifth, impacting around 150 jobs.

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said: “With demand for travel remaining subdued, we are now having to make some very difficult decisions, and it is with great regret that today we are announcing our intention to enter into a consultation process that could result in up to 6,000 redundancies in the UK, of which it is hoped that a significant proportion can be achieved voluntarily.”

Whitbread expects the jobs to go by the end of the year.

But it said the vast majority of its 900 hotels and 350 restaurants would remain open.

It came as Whitbread revealed like-for-like sales crashed 77.6% in the six months to August 27 after the coronavirus lockdown forced the closure of its estate.

The group said hotel sales growth has been strong since reopening, with those in UK seaside and tourist locations almost 80% full in August as more Britons staycationed due to travel fears amid the pandemic.

But demand in London and other city centres remained under pressure, with total occupancy levels at 51% on average last month and sales still 47.3% lower.

The Government’s popular Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme in August helped boost its eateries, with the decline in total hotel and restaurant sales narrowing to 38.5% last month.

Trading in the first two months of September remained ahead of the wider market, according to the group, with bookings in tourist destinations still strong.

Whitbread flagged the increased restrictions by the Government to clamp down on a second wave of the pandemic and said it will “continue to closely monitor the situation”.

Ms Brittain said: “Our performance following the reopenings has been ahead of the market, however, it has been clear from the beginning of this crisis that even as restrictions are eased and hospitality businesses such as ours reopen their doors, that demand would be materially lower than full year 2020 levels for a period of time.”

Published: 22/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

What are the new Covid-19 measures for pubs?
Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new measures in a bid to get Covid-19 transmission under control without resorting to a national lockdown.

With socialising blamed for the surge in infections, the hospitality sector will bear the brunt of the latest restrictions.

Here’s what you need to know.

-What’s the current situation?

Some of the UK’s most senior scientists made some dire warnings on Monday and the threat level was ramped up to level four, meaning transmission “is high or rising exponentially”.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned we could be facing 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 by mid-November unless rapid action is taken.

-Closing times

From Thursday evening, all pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues in England will be required to close by 10pm.

The 10pm curfew, used elsewhere in local lockdowns, will be rolled out across the country to try to prevent alcohol-fuelled breaches of social distancing rules.

-No propping up the bar

Say goodbye to your favourite bar stool for a while – from Thursday evening all sectors of the hospitality industry will be restricted by law to table service only.

Maintaining social distancing when the bar queue is 3ft deep at last orders was always going to be a challenge.

– Keep washing those hands

As more measures are announced, the Government will still be hammering home its “hands, face, space” message as the most effective form of virus control.

The Prime Minister is due to urge the nation to stick to social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing face coverings in a bid to avoid a second national lockdown.

– What happens next?

The PM has two big meetings lined up on Tuesday to figure out how far the UK needs to go to try to get the spread of the virus under control before the colder weather hits.

The Cabinet is due to meet before Mr Johnson sets out the changes to social distancing measures in a statement to Parliament.

He will also chair a Cobra emergency committee including the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

-What does the Government say?

The Government knows that this extra blow to hospitality – especially after so much was spent on trying to support it through the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme – will be a bitter pill to swallow.

A spokesman for Number 10 said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.

“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”

Published: 22/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Boris Johnson to order pubs to close at 10pm as he makes address to nation
Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be ordered to close by 10pm each night under tough restrictions set to be announced by Boris Johnson in a bid to curb the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.

The Prime Minister will use an address to the nation to outline new measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, which will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only.

Mr Johnson will emphasise the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly, and – according to reports – urge people to work from home where it does not hurt businesses.

According to The Daily Telegraph, other potential measures being considered include a further delay to trials of spectators returning to professional sport events and the closure of indoor concert venues.

It comes after the Government’s chief scientific and medical advisers painted a grim picture of how 200 or more people in the UK could die each day by mid-November if the current rate of infection is not halted.

Sir Patrick Vallance, speaking alongside Professor Chris Whitty on Monday, said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.

The UK’s four chief medical officers then recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

Mr Johnson will chair meetings of Cabinet and the Cobra emergency committee – including the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – on Tuesday before a televised address at 8pm.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.

“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”

The fresh restrictions sparked anger from the hospitality sector, with Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, describing them as “another crushing blow” for many businesses.

“A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period,” she said.

“Table service has been widely adopted in some parts of the sector since reopening but it is not necessary across all businesses, such as coffee shops.

“It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just 5% of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the new rules would “feel like a step backwards”, and urged the Government to fix the track and trace system and help the hospitality sector.

He said: “The Prime Minister must also financially help pubs and restaurants who will inevitably lose business. After people have already been through so much hardship, we cannot allow thousands of jobs to disappear overnight.”

In mid-September, around 3,000 new cases were recorded every day in the UK and if the growth continued unabated that would result in 50,000 cases by the middle of October, Sir Patrick said.

He warned the “50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November, say, to 200-plus deaths per day”.

“The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.”

Prof Whitty suggested that reducing social contacts was a key way to curb the spread but acknowledged there was a balance to be struck in terms of protecting the economy.

“Ministers making decisions – and all of society – have to walk this very difficult balance,” he said.

“If we do too little, this virus will go out of control and you will get significant numbers of increased direct and indirect deaths.

“But if we go too far the other way, then we can cause damage to the economy which can feed through to unemployment, to poverty, to deprivation – all of which have long-term health effects, so we need always to keep these two sides in mind.”

He suggested that science would eventually “ride to our rescue”, but “in this period of the next six months, I think we have to realise that we have to take this, collectively, very seriously”.

Published: 22/09/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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